Page last updated at 10:03 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Indonesia 'bans' film on journalists' deaths in E Timor

Malcolm Rennie, Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Brian Peters, Tony Stewart,
The Balibo five were Malcolm Rennie, Greg Shackleton, Gary Cunningham, Brian Peters and Tony Stewart

Indonesia has banned the film Balibo, which depicts the deaths of six foreign journalists in East Timor, the head of the foreign correspondents club said.

The club cancelled a screening of the film on legal advice that they could face charges.

The journalists died as Indonesian troops invaded East Timor in 1975.

Jakarta maintains they were killed accidentally in cross-fire. But an Australian coroner found in 2007 that the journalists had been executed.

The journalists - two Australians, two Britons and a New Zealander - were killed in the border town of Balibo as Indonesian forces entered East Timor.

A sixth Australian journalist was killed in Dili shortly after when Indonesian troops entered the city.

Successive Australian governments have accepted the Indonesian stance but Australian police announced earlier this year they were opening a war crimes inquiry into the deaths.

Balibo depicts the journalists, working for Australian TV networks, being brutally murdered by Indonesian troops as they attempt to surrender.

Diplomatic fears

The head of the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club (JFCC) told an audience gathered for a private screening on Tuesday night that Indonesia's Film Censorship Agency had banned the movie.

Map of East Timor

"I haven't received anything official but after consulting with our legal advisers, we decided it would be too risky because, while this is a private screening, it would be in a public place thus violating the law," said JFCC president Jason Tedjasukmana.

Organisers for the Jakarta International Film Festival (Jiffest) said they had also cancelled their planned screenings of the film.

"They told us that we cannot show the movie," said Jiffest manager Nauval Yazid.

"The reason was not really clear. It is likely because of concerns that it will affect relations with East Timor and Australia."

Indonesian military figures welcomed the ban.

"It will only hurt many Indonesians," military spokesman Rear Marshal Sagom Tamboen told the Jakarta Post.

"The movie will only do irreparable damage to the ties between Indonesia, Timor Leste [East Timor] and Australia."

Indonesia invaded East Timor after the territory descended into civil war following the end of Portuguese colonial rule.

At least 100,000 people are believed to have died as a result of Indonesia's 25-year occupation. East Timor achieved formal independence in 2002.

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Reuters UK Indonesia bans "war crimes" film Balibo - 8 hrs ago
Jakarta Post `Balibo' screening canceled, deemed `too risky' - 14 hrs ago
France24 Indonesia bans Australian film on E.Timor killings - 15 hrs ago
ABC Online Indonesia bans Aussie film - 20 hrs ago
CBC Indonesia bans Balibo movie ahead of premiere - 25 hrs ago

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